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Speaker Biography

Tony Durcan OBE

Tony is Head of Culture, Libraries and Lifelong Learning for Newcastle City Council, joining Newcastle as Head of Libraries and Information in 2002, taking over responsibility for Lifelong Learning in 2004, for Culture in 2006, and Tourism in 2008.

Before moving to Newcastle Tony worked for Gateshead Library and Arts Service, as Assistant Director, then Deputy Director and latterly as Head of Libraries, Arts and Information. Before that he had a variety of roles with Derbyshire Library Service, from Trainee to District Librarian.

Public library priorities in Newcastle have been to work with colleagues to modernise services, to gain acknowledgement for the quality services that were being delivered, and to create a positive profile for the Library Service within the Council. The service is now held in high regard by both the Council and external stakeholders. One of Newcastle’s major projects has been the development of new city library through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) route. Tony was the Director of this really exciting project, and the Council opened its new city library, with a very positive and sustained public response, in June 2009.

Tony was President of the Society of Chief Librarians from 2007 until 2009. The role and the workload were both challenging, but it was an opportunity (and a privilege) to represent public libraries at the national level. He currently chairs SCL’s Books and reading group. He is also a member of the Advisory Council on Libraries, and was a Board member for the Public Libraries Modernisation Review.